Disclaimer for this entire story, because I hate typing disclaimers and I don't own Twilight. So there.
Chapter 1: I Hate Surprises
"A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again."
I'd always been a bit of a Daddy's girl, but sometimes it can be utterly pathetic. Charlie has always looked out for me, was always my Number One Guy. But as the years passed me by I started to realize that maybe I needed a drastic change.
At sixteen, I lived life repeating a movie line like a mantra. "The only man a girl can depend on is her daddy." Frenchy had that right. That line was what I repeated at the homecoming dance when toe-headed, baby-faced Mike Newton tried to put his hands under my dress. He couldn't be trusted, none of those hormonal, squeaky-voiced boys could.
But as Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed morphed into Not-So-Sweet Seventeen and Seriously Never Been Kissed, and when that gave way to eighteen and then nineteen followed in quick succession, I was beginning to see a pattern.
I would have to drop the Grease quote and go for something different. Something about stepping out of the box and trying different things—but nothing came to mind, and that was why I found my current existence quite dismal.
It was early September, my twenty-first birthday to be exact. And my dad, Charlie, was taking me out to dinner. It wasn't lost on me that I was so pathetic and antisocial that my own father had to take me out to celebrate my twenty-first year.
He took me to a little Chinese restaurant downtown. It was tastefully decorated in red's and gold's and large, winding dragons that curled over the walls—their jaws open and their eyes wide.
A petite Asian woman seated us at a booth near the buffet. It smelled good, like steamed rice and spicy food. Charlie wasn't a big fan of Chinese food, but ever since I started college I've developed a taste for General Tso's Chicken—mainly because I ate an alarming amount of takeout our freshman year—so my father decided to treat me to a personal favourite.
"Happy birthday," Charlie said with an awkward cough, sliding a clumsily wrapped gift across the black lacquer table. It was kind of lumpy and had about an entire roll of tape haphazardly wrapped around the pink patterned wrapping paper.
I smiled tentatively at my father, "Thanks." I tried to unwrap it but to no avail. I ended up having to cut about three layers of Scotch tape away with my butter knife before I could even think about pulling the wrapping paper away.
When I finally got down to the actual present, I could tell that it was vaguely square-shaped and heavy. I pulled the final layer of tape and paper away to reveal an old book, a beautifully bound copy of Wuthering Heights. I could feel a prick at my eyes, like tears swimming behind the lids.
"Thank you," I breathed, turning the beautiful little book over in my hands, caressing the stiff, old pages.
Charlie shifted uncomfortably, "I was at that old antique shop downtown and the little lady that works there showed me to the books in the back. She said that this one was in the best condition. I told her you were an English Literature major, and she seemed to think you'd like it."
I smiled a watery smile at my father and leaned across our table to wrap my arms around his stiff shoulders. His hands came up timidly and patted my back. "I'm glad you like it, Bells."
"I love it!" I exclaimed, sitting back down in my chair and hugging the book to my chest. In all my years of living with Charlie I'd never known him to give such a thoughtful gift. He never forgot my birthday, or Christmas or anything—but he always got gift cards or gave me money, citing that he didn't know what I would like so I could get my gift myself.
I was dabbing my tears away with my bright red, cloth napkin when our waitress came back with our drink orders. I was tempted to push my luck and order one of the alcoholic beverages the menu served for those over the age of twenty-one, but I figured I wouldn't try. I didn't want to give Charlie a heart attack. I knew he was a little upset that his baby was getting older, so I figured I'd pick myself up a bottle of wine when Charlie wasn't around and experiment by myself.
"Are you ready to order?" Our waitress asked in heavily accented English. I hadn't even had time to look through my menu properly, so I gestured to my father and let him order first.
He took the easy way out, "I'll have the buffet."
Our waitress nodded and turned expectant, dark eyes on me, "I'll have the buffet, too."
She nodded, told us to help ourselves and disappeared behind a set of ornate, swinging doors that I assumed led to the kitchen.
Charlie grinned at me and swung his legs around the booth to go attack the buffet, I followed close behind him after tucking my precious gift into my bag.
My father and I loaded our plates with spicy chicken, and rice and noodles and meat of unidentifiable origin—we ate like royalty, because after all, it was a special occasion.
I was halfway through my second plate of beef lo mein when Charlie started to wring his napkin between his thick fingers.
"Everything, ok, Dad?" I asked.
"Well, there's something I want to talk to you about, Bella." He said, not meeting my eyes. That was never a good sign.
"What is it?" I asked, fidgeting uselessly.
"Well, you remember Sue Clearwater from down on the reservation, right?" He asked, his face reddening. He smoothed down the sides of his mustache, "Well, we've been seeing each other for a while now."
I felt all the colour drain from my face. How did I not know that? My own father had been keeping a woman a secret from me. I flushed angrily, was I not to be trusted? Was that why he hadn't told me about his secret flame?
"Don't be mad, Bella," my father sighed. "I didn't know how serious things were so I kept it from you."
"Things are serious?!" I demanded, slamming my chopsticks against the tabletop.
Charlie blushed and that was all the answer I needed. I fumed at him silently, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know," he sighed, picking at the food left on his plate.
I felt betrayed by my own father, I shared everything with him. Ever since Renee abandoned us years ago he'd been Mother and Father to me. And right now, I didn't even know him. He was some other different person wearing my father's skin.
I tried not to let the hurt tears swell in my eyes, "So what are you trying to tell me?"
"She's the one who told me to tell you about us, she wants to have a family dinner on Monday night," he said, still looking anywhere but my eyes.
"A family dinner!" I screeched. My family consisted of me and Charlie nothing more, nothing less.
Charlie flushed, "Isabella, she has two kids around your age; she would really like it if we got all of you guys together just so you could meet and get to know each other."
"But it's not a family dinner," I protested, feeling very childish and hurt, "it's just a get-together of two sets of families. We're not one big happy family!"
Charlie looked hurt, and I immediately regretted having blown up at him. He was lonely and I knew it—but it wasn't fair! My own father had a more romantic life than I had. I was jealous and upset and for once in my life I longed for the mother I didn't really know.
"I'm sorry, Bells. I shouldn't have sprung this on you. Not on your birthday at least," he said with a sigh, tossing his napkin onto his plate. "Let's just go home."
"You go on ahead," I told him. We'd driven separately because he had come straight from work, and I was thankful for it. At least he wouldn't have an excuse to make me go with him.
"Bella," he protested, standing beside me. I glared at the menu in front of me, reading the little Zodiac fortunes on it.
I sensed him leave my side and a moment later I heard the bells above the door jingle as he left. I started to cry once he was gone. This was why I hated my birthday, because no matter how good it began, it always ended just the same. Me crying alone, my heart throbbing painfully in my chest—bizarrely empty for some inexplicable reason.
I read over my fortune on the placemat, I was born in the year of the Rabbit.
'The Rabbit symbolizes such character traits as creativity, compassion, and sensitivity. Rabbits are friendly, outgoing and prefer the company of others. They also prefer to avoid conflict. In confrontational situations, Rabbits approach calmly and with consideration for the other party. Rabbits believe strongly in friends and family and lacking such bonds can lead to emotional issues.'
I started to laugh through my tears, emotional issues for sure.
I continued reading, 'The Rabbit is most compatible with the Pig and the Dog.'
Where were all the pigs and dogs when you really wanted to find one? I asked myself. There really was no use, they didn't exist.
I sifted through my purse and pulled the copy of Wuthering Heights out, flipping through pages, trying to see through my tear-blurry eyes.
'You teach me how cruel you've been - cruel and false. Why do you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my kisses and tears; they'll blight you - they'll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it.'
I threw the book across the table and stood up; I paid for our dinner at the counter at the front, irrationally upset that I had to pay for my own birthday dinner. The hostess stared at me and my tear-stained cheeks, but didn't say anything.
I brushed out of the door, still crying quietly to myself and all I could think of was that I'd broken my own heart.
So, here's the beginning to my new story. I've gotten the first 10 chapters written thus far, and so I've decided to update this story EVERY 5 DAYS. So, that means the next update for this story will be on Tuesday, July 21. I'll try my hardest to have the next chapter out then, but I'm going to be on vacation and I have no idea if the house I'm staying at has Internet. But if all else fails I know there's a cafe around there that has really good smoothies and wireless. I'll try to get over there and update.
I didn't write the information on the placemat. I copy and pasted it from ChineseZodiac (dot) com.
So, out of curiosity, what's everyone's Chinese Zodiac sign? I'm a Monkey.